Travel SOS: How do you find the best value cruises?

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Robert is confused by all the cruise offers that he sees and wants to know how to find the best value.

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Q. Robert
I see so many cruise offers around, but am finding it hard to find the one that really offers the best value. Should I look for the one with the cheapest base price, or is it cheaper to book a more expensive cruise with more inclusions? I find comparison sites very confusing as well. What is the best way to find a cheap cruise, without being ripped off when paying for extras?

cruise ship floats at night

A. You are right that it can be very tricky to compare cruise offers.

If you are looking to save money on a cruise, one of the most important decisions you can make is choosing a cruise that leaves and returns to Australia, as this will automatically knock out the price of airfares required to start your journey. If you live in a major capital city, you can look for a cruise that departs and returns to your home port to save money on domestic airfares as well.

On some liners, gratuities, special restaurants, activities and on-shore excursions cost extra, while on others they’re included in your base fare. So it is important to make sure that you are comparing like with like.

Consumer group CHOICE has an excellent guide for first-time cruises that can help guide you through a lot of these decisions.

Comparison sites can help you find some great deals but it is important to cross check the information to make sure the deal matches your expectations.

Firstly, you should always check any deal from a comparison site to see if you can find a better deal directly with the cruise line.

While some sites offer lowest price guarantees, these may not include offers that give you extras like onboard credit or vouchers, so it is important to read the fine print.

Not all comparison sites compare all the cruise lines available, so it can be useful to try using two or three comparison sites to ensure you have access to all the information possible.

Do you have any tips for finding the best cruise deals?

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